Multi-site Field Verification of Laboratory Derived FDOM Sensor Corrections: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Monday, 15 December 2014
JohnFranco Saraceno, USGS CAWSC, Sacramento, CA, United States, James B Shanley, USGS New Hampshire/Vermont Water Science Center, Pembroke, NH, United States and Brent T Aulenbach, USGS, Georgia Water Science Center, Norcross, GA, United States
Fluorescent dissolved organic matter (FDOM) is an excellent proxy for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in natural waters. Through this relationship, in situ FDOM can be utilized to capture both high frequency time series and long term fluxes of DOC in small streams. However, in order to calculate accurate DOC fluxes for comparison across sites, in situ FDOM data must be compensated for matrix effects. Key matrix effects, include temperature, turbidity and the inner filter effect due to color. These interferences must be compensated for to develop a reasonable relationship between FDOM and DOC. In this study, we applied laboratory-derived correction factors to real time data from the five USGS WEBB headwater streams in order to gauge their effectiveness across a range of matrix effects. The good news is that laboratory derived correction factors improved the predicative relationship (higher r2) between DOC and FDOM when compared to uncorrected data. The relative importance of each matrix effect (i.e. temperature) varied by site and by time, implying that each and every matrix effect should be compensated for when available. In general, temperature effects were more important on longer time scales, while corrections for turbidity and DOC inner filter effects were most prevalent during hydrologic events, when the highest instantaneous flux of DOC occurred. Unfortunately, even when corrected for matrix effects, in situ FDOM is a weaker predictor of DOC than A254, a common surrogate for DOC, implying that either DOC fluoresces at varying degrees (but should average out over time), that some matrix effects (e.g. pH) are either unaccounted for or laboratory-derived correction factors do not encompass the site variability of particles and organics. The least impressive finding is that the inherent dependence on three variables in the FDOM correction algorithm increases the likelihood of record data gaps which increases the uncertainty in calculated DOC flux values.